THE Royle Family star Ricky Tomlinson has revealed one of his brothers died from coronavirus as he urged people to take part in a mass testing pilot in Liverpool.

In a video message posted on the Liverpool City Council Twitter account, the actor who once lived in Coedpoeth, said: “Covid is a killer. I know only too well, because one of my brothers has just died from Covid-19.

“Don’t let it happen to you, send away for your kit today and do what you’re supposed to do. Save your life and your loved ones around you.”

Tomlinson, 81, said he had used a home testing kit.

As part of the pilot scheme, which began on November 6, anyone who lives or works in Liverpool can have a coronavirus test, even if they are not showing symptoms.

Ricky, Tomlinsonhas never forgotten his time in Wrexham where he still has friends and family. In 1961 he met his first wife Marlene Clifton at a fairground in the town.

He worked as a labourer and plasterer in Wrexham while doing stage gigs as a comedian and a musician, talents which in later life would land him roles in Brookside and as the iconic couch potato Jim Royle.

The Liverpool testing pilot is being used to inform the first mass testing in Wales when it begins in Merthyr Tydfil on Saturday.

Dr Andrew Goodall, NHS Wales Chief Executive, called the scheme "a measure to support the local population" and that the Liverpoiol pilot is the "most significant we can learn from".

There has been extensive military support in planning the scheme, and it is looking to deploy different technology.

And with the ability to use lateral flow devices, it changes the nature of the tests and results.

"We can give those results within 30 minutes to hour, which will allow very rapid understanding," said Dr Goodall.

But he stressed that testing is only one part of the process, to allow diagnosis.

"What has to follow is people then complying with the rules and guidance," he said.

"They will also have access to a second test to make sure it is an accurate reading."

Call The Midwife actor Stephen McGann also encouraged people to take part in Liverpool.

He said his brother Joe, who appears in soap Hollyoaks, and their mother had been for a test.

In a video posted on Twitter, he said: “My own mum and my big brother Joe have already been down for a test and they’re going to go back next week and have another one and I am absolutely chuffed about that because this mass testing pilot puts Liverpool at the front of testing, at the front of research.

“We are where we should be in public health, all coming together to find out how to do this properly to benefit everybody else.

“I think it’s a brilliant scheme. If you haven’t been down there yet please consider going down.”

Figures from Thursday showed 144,548 Liverpool residents had been tested since the scheme began, with many using the lateral flow tests which give results within an hour.

About 2,000 soldiers have been deployed to the city to deliver the tests.

Speaking when he visited a testing site in the city on Monday, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the scheme was “going in the right direction” but they would like more people to take part.

The pilot was planned to run for 10 to 14 days initially but is now expected to last until the end of November.